So…”The Menagerie” is the first Star Trek two parter I’ve encountered and from what I understand, the only one in The Original Series. It reuses footage from the unaired pilot, “The Cage”. I decided to talk about both parts together because it felt like that made the most sense.
In “The Menagerie,” Spock orchestrates the kidnapping of former Enterprise Captain Pike, who was injured in a space accident. Spock then hijacks the Enterprise and sets course for Talos IV, which has been deemed off limits since Pike’s last experience there. When Spock’s plan is uncovered, he is court martialed, and he shows footage from the Enterprise’s last encounter with the Talosians to plead his case. It seems Spock’s ultimate goal is to return Pike to the Talosians so that he can live out the remainder of his days in their menagerie with Vina. So that ends up being what happens to Pike. And I guess the Talosians orchestrated the whole thing? And Pike, Kirk and everyone is ultimately okay with this plan?
From the sources I encountered, Jeffrey Hunter was “unavailable” to reprise his role as Pike, so a “look alike” actor was brought in to play Pike. Which, I mean, I guess that’s fine. I didn’t really think replacement actor Sean Kenney really looked that much like Hunter, so perhaps it’s for the best that he was under all that makeup. Additionally, I’m not entirely sure the circumstances under which Hunter left Star Trek, but I’m wondering if “unavailable” is code for “there was some bad blood there and either Hunter wasn’t really asked back or Hunter refused.”
A lot of what I said about “The Cage” can also be applied to “The Menagerie.” I guess I can add the following thoughts:
- Is it really in character for Spock to lie to Kirk and hijack the Enterprise? Are we supposed to believe that Spock was in contact with the Talosians in order to orchestrate this whole thing? From some of Kirk’s comments, it sounds like even Kirk thought this was out of character for Spock to lie. I wonder if I will see Spock going against Kirk like this again in the future.
- I’m still really confused about how old Vina is supposed to be. If she was a baby when her ship crashed, she’d be about 18 at the time of “The Cage,” and in her early 30s at the time of “The Menagerie.” If she were an adult, say in her 20s, when her ship crashed, she’d be somewhere between her late 30s to somewhere in her 40s at the time of “The Cage” and somewhere between 50 and 60 at the time of “The Menagerie,” I think? I’m so confused about this timeline.
- I also wasn’t clear as to whether returning to the Talosians was something Pike really wanted. And if so, why? He seemed not too keen on what they were doing when he encountered them in the first place. Additionally, why would the Talosians want Pike back? Wasn’t the entire point of having humans was to populate their planet with human slaves? Is something like that even possible when their humans are Pike and Vina?
I think that’s everything I wanted to say about “The Menagerie.” Let’s talk in the comments.